I was reading an interview with Damon Albarn the other day where he mentioned the extent to which heroin improved his creative output:
‘For me it was incredibly creative. It freed me up. If you’re talking about an odyssey, that was definitely an odyssey… I can only say (heroin) was incredibly productive for me. Hand on heart.’
Then I read an interview with Jeremy Thomas, Oscar-winning producer of The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast and The Naked Lunch. He lamented the change in the way films were made because it used to be de rigeur to provide beer at the end of a day’s shooting, whereas this was now very much frowned upon:
‘I’m not condoning drunkenness. I’m just saying that that part of the creative process is no longer there… There are many constraints on (freedom and creativity) now and my best films were made in an era of wildness.’
This left me wondering what we might now be missing that could be enhancing creativity. The possibly apocryphal stories of yesteryear agency boozing and drugging are legion, and only a myopic prick would try to argue that the work wasn’t commensurately gargantuan in quality. So did the booze and biftas bring on the brilliance, or was it somewhat coincidental?
It’s easy to see a connection between the looseness of mind that comes with inebriation and the random leaps and collisions that bring on the most original ideas. However much the sensible part of my brain would like to dismiss the relationship, the part that’s now two large glasses of delicious Summerland Chardonnay to the good/bad can only see a brick-hard logic in suggesting that one can certainly lead to the other, after all, the work of Hemingway, Huxley and Lennon does seem pretty persuasive here. But does more drinking bring on more creativity? Harder to argue, and besides, one then has to deal with the attendant problems a greater ingestion of alcohol often creates. In addition, we have those pesky tee-totallers, Carty and Campbell and their peerless creative output, proving that A doesn’t necessarily lead to B.
Of course, many other factors have repressed advertising creativity over the years, but I do recall a suggestion from the aforementioned Walter Campbell, who told me years ago that he sometimes liked to come to work at 2am because the mind worked in a completely different way at that time of night (I once tried this theory out and discovered that he was right, but then I was too knackered to continue the experiment and unlike Walt I couldn’t just fail to turn up to work during daylight hours in the service of a thought experiment). So the altering of the brain’s conventional workings, whether conventionally, illegally, or otherwise, has been consistently proven to bring on the good stuff that makes the great stuff.
But how do your own experiences bear this theory out? Does Courvoisier equal Cannes Lions? Can a bit of ketamine bring you a Kinsale Shark? Or is a messy mind entirely unrelated to the creative process?
Answers on a forthright caramel tree house.